Cats and dogs are two most popular pets in our human society. No doubt about it, which means that, in many cases, cats and dogs have to share their living space.
In our previous article, we talked about the proper way of bringing a new kitten home, and now we want to discuss a bit more advanced version of it, introducing a kitten to a resident dog.
The technique is similar for bringing home adult cats, however, in such case, depending on the previous experience of both animals, it may take more effort from your side, and, most likely will be more about training them to tolerate each other, rather than becoming friends.
Also, if you plan ahead, it’s better if you choose a kitten that is already socialized to dogs in his early life. Most breeders do introduce kittens to dogs, however, do ask a question about this, if you have a dog waiting home. Of course, we are aware it’s not always possible to choose the kitten, like, when the kitten chooses you, when it’s not possible to know what was his previous experience, or just when it’s already too late to choose a kitten, because you already did.
Why is it hard to introduce cat to a dog?
Let’s put it clear. Cats and dogs are not enemies. Despite the stories, books, movies and sayings about the opposite. There are plenty of examples when cats and dogs are sleeping next top each other, cuddling and even eating from the same food bowl.
In the same time, however, cat’s and dogs do belong to different species, which means, if we may say, they “speak” different languages.
It’s not about cats going “meow” and dogs going “woof”. Animals of mostly interact using body language, and, different postures are used by dogs and cats.
In example, dogs love to communicate quite actively with a huge intensity. Especially, if they are excited. Cats, on the other hand, love calmer approaches.
Step by step introduction between the new kitten and your dog
Now, let’s go step by step through the process of introducing a cat to a dog. Remember, we are talking about the case when you bring a cat home to a dog, not the other way around. The difference lies in fact, which is entering whose territory, and, in an animal world, it makes a massive difference. If you are looking for the version when you introduce a puppy to a resident cat, we will write about this somewhere in the near future.
- Create separate room for your cat. We already talked about such room in our previous article. If you are going to introduce a kitten to a dog, this room, besides food bowl, water bowl and litter box, must have a cat tree, or other form of elevated location, where your cat will be able to sit and observe your dog securely.
- Let the kitten adapt to the new home. Again, we already talked about it in our previous article. You may play with your kitten, sit next to him or, in some cases even leave him alone in his room. Wait till the kitten feels comfortable in his new environment before introducing a dog. It may be as short as one day, or even as long as a month, depending on how your kitten is adapting and what are previous experience and personality of both animals.
- Train your dog. To introduce a kitten to your dog properly, you need to teach him basic commands. “Sit”, “Here” and “Stay” are the most essential ones, as they allow to manage the behavior of your dog when around the kitten.
- Tire your dog before the introduction session. It all depends on the amount of energy your dog has, but it will be a lot easier, if your dog has had a walk or a play before the introduction. If he is too excited towards the kitten, it may become a frightful experience for the little pal, even if the dog has the best intentions.
- Let both animals observe each other from a distance. It’s best done by taking your dog on a leash and encouraging the kitten to sit on an elevation. Or, alternatively, they may observe each other through an open door with a baby gate installed. Try to focus attention of both animals on something else, like food or playing. Also, keep introduction sessions short in the beginning, and depending on how both animals act.
- Gradually modify the distance. Observe the behavior of both animals. If they seem to be curious about each other, with no signs of aggression or fright, you may let them examine each other closer. Keep the dog on a leash, and allow him to approach the kitten. Just make sure, the kitten can go away, hide, or climb on an elevation, if he wants to. If any of animals become frightened, or aggressive, increase the distance by pulling the dog away. If the dog is becoming too active, command him to sit and reward for such behavior.
- Accept the tension between dog and cat, may never go away. It’s especially true for adult cats and kittens who were not socialized to dogs in their early life. In this case, above techniques are still necessary, as they help to minimize the tension. However, you must think about ways to make their co-existence less troublesome. It’s best done by introducing a lot of elevated location for your cat, that are not reachable to your dog, and even creating a part of the house, where dog is not allowed in, by use of a baby gate. Also, if the cat is one who acts aggressively towards the dog, make sure to teach your dog not to bother him.
Things may get even more difficult, if your new kitten is afraid of you, as well. If that’s your case, you might want to benefit from reading an article about getting your new kitten trust you.
This article is a part of series about getting your first cat.